Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Pacifica American’s Andrew Harkness drives in a pair of runs with a single in the top of the fifth inning to give his team a 12-10 lead during the Mets’ 13-10 win over the Foster City Red Sox in the finals of the District 52 Tournament of Champions. Harkness also picked up the win on the mound with 2 1/3 innings of one-hit ball.
There were two interesting story lines at District 52 Little League Tournament of Champions championship game Tuesday afternoon at Foster City’s Sea Cloud Park.
On one side, there was the Foster City Red Sox, which finished last in the Foster City Little League regular season, before catching fire and reeling off nine straight wins to capture the league tournament and advance to the TOC finals.
On the other side was the Pacifica American Mets, which needed a win in the TOC finals to complete an undefeated season.
In a game that went back and forth all game long, it was the Mets that finally shut down the Red Sox to record a 13-10 victory and complete a perfect 18-0 season.
Mets head coach Len Harkness admitted to feeling the pressure of going through the entire season without a loss.
“You never want to lose in the championship game,” Harkness said. “I knew [Foster City] had a team that could come out here and play.”
It was Andrew Harkness who finally cooled off the Foster City bats. He came on in relief of Mets starter Nate Azzopardi with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning and his team trailing 10-9. Andrew Harkness got the final out of the fourth, the Mets scored three runs in the fifth to take a 12-10 lead, added an insurance run in the fifth and Harkness limited the Red Sox to just one hit over the final two innings to record the victory.
“[Andrew] would be my ace, but he’s had arm problems. I’ve been babying him along all season,” Len Harkness said. “I didn’t really feel comfortable going to my son (in that situation), but he asked for the ball.”
Andrew Harkness was the only pitcher of the game to shut down the opposition. Before he came into the game, it was a slugfest. Foster City scored 10 runs on 13 hits. The Red Sox had four batters with two hits and three drive in two runs or more. Jonathan Scofield had a pair of hits — including a three-run bomb in the fourth inning — and drove in three runs while scoring twice. JC Ng added a pair of hits, including a double and scored twice. Jeremy Chong hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the bottom of the first. He finished with three RBIs. Lopeti Pierce hit a solo homer for one of his two hits and later added a double. Leo Mendoza also had two hits, driving in two runs with a double in the third.
“It was a special time for all of us,” said Foster City head coach Ed Pierce of his team’s season. “They fought to the end. I was proud with what we brought at the end of the season.”
Pacifica American’s offense was just as deadly as the Mets scored 13 runs on 10 hits. Cam Myer had a huge game, going 3 for 4 with four RBIs. In addition to his work on the mound, Andrew Harkness also had a big day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs. He just missed a three-run homer in the top of the fifth when his shot to center field hit high off the fence, but bounced back into the field of play. Thomas Arnest drove in a pair of runs with a double, while Payson Jones and Sam Gonzales each drove in a run as well.
Despite it being a championship, both coaches believed the conditions were ripe for a high-scoring game.
“I kind of figured with a four-game (single-elimination) tournament, a lot of pitching gets used,” Len Harkness said.
Said Ed Pierce: “I think we kind of anticipated [a high-scoring game] a little bit.”
Both coaches’ feelings came to fruition early. Pacifica American jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Cruz Thompson led off with a walk and went all the way around to third on a wild pitch, scoring when the throw to third got past the Foster City third baseman. With the bases loaded, Myer came to the plate and roped a two-run single down the left-field line for a 3-0 lead.
It was short-lived, however, as Foster City came back with three of its own in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Ng singled and Chong followed with a two-run blast to straight-away center field to cut the Mets’ lead to 3-2. It was tied two pitched later when Lopeti Pierce launched a solo homer to almost the exact same spot as Chong’s.
“They [the Red Sox] were on fire,” Len Harkness said. “When they scored three in the first I said, Wow! We’re going to have to earn this thing.”
Pacifica American retook the lead in the top of the third, with Arnest driving in Evan Ansgarius and Myer with a double to the right-center field gap.
Foster City came right back to take the lead in the bottom of the inning with three runs. Scofield scored on a Chong groundout, while Lopeti Pierce and Joey Borges scored on Mendoza’s double to the fence in left to put the Red Sox up 6-5.
The Mets responded with a four-spot in the fourth inning to take a 9-6 lead. Andrew Harkness drove in the first run of the inning with a double, Jones hit a sacrifice fly to drive Azzopardi and Myer drove in Harkness and Ansgarius with a single to center.
The Red Sox came back with four runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Louis Alvarez reached on an infield hit and Josh Dehoff reached on an error. Scofield followed with a three-run homer to left tie the score at 9. The Red Sox went ahead when Ng doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch to give Foster City a 10-9 lead.
But the Mets would not be denied their undefeated season. They took the lead for good with three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 12-10 lead, the big blow being Andrew Harkness’ two-run single. The Mets added an insurance run in the top of the sixth on a Sam Gonzales double to right-center field, driving in Myer in the process.
“It was a good back-and-forth battle,” Len Harkness said. “It was a fun game.”